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When Things Go Wrong

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

(Habbakuk 3:17-18)

Preparedness requires us to work diligently and attentively so that there may be stock in the barn and food in the garden, so that we may have what we need to use and enough over to share with out neighbors. But our work, however well we do it, doesn’t assure us of a harvest. As the climate changes, insects, diseases, droughts and storms are ever more likely to spoil our work.

This is true in other areas as well. However well we build our homes, they aren’t proof against fire and flood and earthquake. Whatever wise precautions we take, our lives and the lives of the people we love can’t be kept wholly safe from accident, from disease, or from the risk of violence.

We can try to avoid this knowledge by keeping ourselves busy and distracted, by piling precaution on precaution. We can know and despair or we can learn and find courage and abiding joy in a larger promise. We aren’t guaranteed success for the work of our hands. We aren’t guaranteed life or safety.  We are promised that Christ is with us always, to the end of the earth.  We are bidden to rejoice that we are remembered of God.  Our little lives come and go, but God’s life, the joy and power and love and care that created and sustained us, goes on forever, and we can take part in that life through our work, through our love, through our prayer.  To remember this, to live in the light of this promise, is one of the most important preparations we can make for whatever may come.

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